Lucy

Last week I had the misfortune of seeing a movie that was every bit as bad as I suspected it would be. Lucy looked silly from the outset, but there was the slightest hint of something cool. Scar Jo kicking butt and taking names? I’m here for it, nonsensical plot be damned. Imagine my disappointment when I not only confirmed the absurdity of the story, but also realized that Lucy’s cool factor was nil.

Judging from the trailer and word of mouth, I expected Lucy to be like the 2011 film Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper. That movie featured Cooper as a lackluster writer who takes a mysterious pill that unlocks his hidden potential. Unfortunately, Lucy was not as clever. The plot was deficient from the start, opening with Johansson as the titular heroine who finds herself the unwitting participant of a botched drug deal. We are given no background or sufficient character introduction – things simply begin happening. Lucy is forced to be a mule, carrying a bag of some new age blue crystallized drug. When she accidentally ingests the drug, she undergoes an almost supernatural change.

The drug allows Lucy to access more brain capacity than the average human being. Supposedly, we only access 10% or less of our cerebral capability. I have no idea if this is true, but it sounded absurd to my ears. Morgan Freeman appears as a scientist who has conducted extensive research on the phenomenon. As the drug continues to course through Lucy’s veins, we witness her rapid evolution as she transforms in unimaginable ways. As her neurological abilities expand, she acquires new “power,” such as the ability to control matter. Here is where the movie really lost me and where comparisons to Limitless fall short. It’s one thing for Lucy to reach her full human potential, it’s quite another thing for her to have the ability to control other people.

Writer/director Luc Besson (3 Days to Kill) is a gifted auteur, having given us the likes of Leon: The Professional, but his creative efforts fell woefully short here. For example, there is one scene where Lucy takes on an entire corridor full of villains. She uses her abilities to suspend the men in midair, instead of fighting her way through the gauntlet. If she has these increased abilities, why not incorporate hand-to-hand combat and let the character make mincemeat out of her foes? We know Johansson is capable from her work in The Avengers. It was just a poor choice in storytelling, in my opinion. Science-fiction movies can still incorporate elements of plausibility, and I thought Lucy took the easy way out. Ultimately, the story was paper thin, with characters just emerging and retreating with no rhyme or reason. Cinematic devices were incorporated and then abandoned. As the movie entered its final act, it reached the height of stupidity.

There isn’t much left to say. I found very little worthwhile about this movie. I like Scarlett Johansson a lot, but what could she do with the material? It’s not her fault; it is what it is. Morgan Freeman’s sage, majestic intonations were similarly ineffective in elevating such drivel. This is the kind of movie you watch on Netflix or cable when you’re bored at home with nothing better to do. And even then, it won’t have your full attention. Grade: D

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